True story: I don’t understand racism. I don’t see it. I haven’t personally experienced it. I just don’t get how anyone could be racist or justify racism. I don’t know if I inadvertently encourage or support it. Just being honest: My name might as well be Whitey McWhiteperson from Whiteville, USA.
In Whiteville, people go to church and they have an unhealthy obsession with football, and they back the blue and they mow their lawns and they smile and wave and open doors and help strangers. No joke, Whitevilleians are eerily friendly.
I didn’t mean to live in Whiteville, but that’s where I ended up. In Whiteville, my husband works at his awesome job while I get the privilege of staying at our awesome home with our awesome children. We have chickens and we play baseball and we eat homecooked meals together in the comfortable comfort of our (coincidentally also white) house. We flew an American flag on our front porch until the Oklahoma wind came sweeping down the Plain and ripped it all to shreds.
In the mornings I sit on my porch in my pajamas and I enjoy views like this while cuddling my baby:
Y’all, that’s a damn rainbow.
I could not love my life more. I won’t apologize for who I am or where I live. And as far as I know, literally no one is asking me to.
Having said all this, I do realize not that there is a large portion of the population who do not get up out of bed in the morning and experience America in this way. Not everyone wakes up to rainbows; they don’t have lawns to mow, or time to play baseball (sad); they’re grabbing their kids from daycare and struggling to make ends meet while I’m rocking my baby to sleep in a leather glider and browsing organic gardening ideas on Pinterest.
Not everyone has positive interactions with the police.
And now that I think about it, Whiteville isn’t perfect. I can’t remember how many times my tan husband got pulled over for no reason in the first two years of living here. It got a little ridiculous. He brushed it off for the most part until one night, while driving pale Cheyenne and her pale friend home from Wednesday night church, he was pulled over and interrogated for absolutely nothing other than he was a suspicious looking Mexican-looking dude (or Colombian, or Jordanian, or Albanian–the world will never know) traveling at night (8:00 p.m.) with two blond-haired teenage girls.
Was the cop just doing his job that night? Maybe…probably? After the officer angrily questioned my husband and the girls, and they were allowed to continue on their five minute journey from church to home, Caleb was livid. “Do I LOOK like a kidnapper or a child molester? What was that cop thinking?!” He ranted and raved for a while. All I could think about was how unfair it all seemed. I was mad too. That was the last time Caleb was pulled over.
I don’t share that story because I want sympathy for Caleb, and I’m not trying to say that because of my husband’s experience, I believe that all cops are bad. I’m not sharing to bring validation to the feelings of people I don’t even know who say they’ve personally been treated unfairly. I didn’t need to secondhand-see it for myself to believe people of color when they say racism a problem in our country.
And if a man of influence wants to take a knee in order to bring attention to a cause, I support his right to do so. If people want to stand for the National Anthem or stop watching football or buying a team’s merchandise because they disagree with that method of protest, I support that, too. A business owner should have the right to decide for himself whether or not to fire players or lock arms with them.
I love that we have all these choices in America. I love that we have the legal ability to talk about the reasons behind the choices. The only thing not up for discussion in my opinion is whether or not shopping carts should be returned to the cart corral in any given parking lot. (FACT: THEY SHOULD.)
But don’t get your yoga pants in a wad: I will stand for the pledge and sing The Star Spangled Banner; I like the police in general–their job is no easy job. My dad was in the Air Force and served in the Persian Gulf War; I love our United States military. I pray for the (hashtag cringe) president.
I also know things need fixing. I hurt for those who struggle because of a system that only seems to be working well for certain people. I appreciate the peaceful protest of a man in a position of influence to ask for fairness and unity (versus a group of white supremacists marching with actual Nazi symbols causing anger and division).
I am absolutely in agreeance that we’ve got some bad cops out there. I think the shooting and killing of unarmed people of color (and people of…not-color?) has gotten crazy out of hand. I don’t pretend to know what the solution is, but I know we’ll never find one if we in Whiteville don’t pull our heads out of our Pumpkin Spice lattes and join the conversation.
Truth be told I am not purposefully ignoring issues of social injustice; I’ve just been momming so hard and my biggest concern as of late is trying to keep my three year old from squeezing the life out of her baby sister every five seconds. I apologize for knowing but not saying anything.
Can I be willing to listen? Can I really be willing to learn? Am I truly desperate to understand? Do I desire to be hopeful and loving?
Being proud of my country and acknowledging its problems are not mutually exclusive, and the God I love and serve would want me to be more concerned with being a peacemaker than with flags of an imperfect earthly kingdom, however much I love living here. So instead of asserting my (obviously privileged) position over something that has little eternal value, I ask with a humble heart, “How can I help?”